February Plus Freebies: Transistor, Thief, Yakuza 4, More

Need to give your Instant Game Collection a boost?

Well, another month is almost over, so it’s time to reveal the free games PlayStation Plus subscribers can snag in February.

As announced over at the PlayStation Blog, the six games (two each for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and Vita) are as follows:

PlayStation 4

PlayStation 3

PlayStation Vita

  • Rogue Legacy
  • Kick & Fennick

These are for both North American and European gamers and they’ll become available to all as of February 3. If you want a recommendation, we say you should definitely check out Transistor if you haven’t already, and Yakuza 4 is a great option, too.

Tags: ps plus deals, instant game collection, ps plus february games

1/29/2015 9:12:13 PM John Shepard

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Here’s A Boatload Of Great New Details For MLB 15: The Show

Think this year’s The Show entry will be just another roster update with slightly fancier graphics?

Oh, think again.

Developer Sony San Diego has published an impressive and highly detailed post over at the PlayStation Blog, and it highlights many of the new features and improvements baseball fans can expect. Some of it we knew before (such as the ability to transfer save content from last year’s iteration) but a lot of it is fresh.

Lovers of our national pastime will also appreciate real-time season sun and shadows, a new slide and tag system, and a new directional hitting interface. Then there’s advanced AI logic, user-controlled fielding cut-offs, a new speed paradigm for fielders and base-runners, revamped night lighting, more accurate and photorealistic rendering, etc. It’s a veritable smorgasbord of updates and upgrades!

For even more info, feel free to read our recent preview.

Related Game(s): MLB 15: The Show

Tags: mlb 15 the show, mlb 15, mlb 15 the show ps4

1/29/2015 9:20:45 PM Ben Dutka

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GTAV Comparison Pics: Virtual Los Santos vs. Real Life

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Mortal Kombat X Welcomes The Slick, Maneuverable Ermac

Developer NetherRealm hinted at another character reveal for Mortal Kombat X this week, and here it is:

The newly unveiled fighter is none other than Ermac, the franchise veteran that will be a defensive force in the upcoming MK entry.

Some of Ermac’s special movies include hover, teleport and disappear. He can even enable a “spectral” version of himself, which can fly around for a brief period of time. In other words, this guy could be extremely difficult to take down, given his tricky maneuvering capabilities. Ermac’s design is pretty damn sweet, too.

They’ve released some gameplay as well, so check that out below. Ermac is just another in a long line of fighters already revealed for Mortal Kombat X, which is slated to arrive in April. Have they confirmed your favorite fighter from the franchise?

Related Game(s): Mortal Kombat X

Tags: mortal kombat x, mkx, mortal kombat x ermac, mortal kombat x gameplay

1/29/2015 9:01:23 PM Ben Dutka

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Grim Fandango Remastered Review: Homage To Adventure

There was a time when adventure games, driven by a charming and compelling narrative, were actually common. As technology advanced and general interest began to gravitate toward faster and flashier, our video games changed. Priorities shifted, which is why big-budget productions today often don’t rely on the dramatic and cerebral. We’ve also lost a lot of that whimsical, goodhearted charm; much of what we see today is extremely dark, gritty and even downright disgusting. That’s why a trip down memory lane with Manny Calavera and friends is just so darn refreshing.

Yes, it’s true, a game that first released in 1998 won’t stand up to today’s graphical standards. However, for those who understand that visual presentations are about more than the number of pixels and overall clarity, they’ll appreciate the wonderful artistry in Grim Fandango Remastered. It’s subtle and kooky; it’s even comical and occasionally over-the-top. But such terms should only be applied in a lighthearted way. If you’re a fan of the game, you know what I mean. Sadly, I will admit that they didn’t do quite enough for a remaster; the textures look just about the same, for example.

The sound fares better, simply because the audio has always been unique and extremely well orchestrated. I’ve always loved the effects in Tim Schafer’s games and the soundtracks are usually carefully selected and nicely implemented. Honestly, one of the reasons why his games feel so original and engaging is because the developers never ignored the importance of great sound. Again, this sound is outdated in direct comparison to today’s productions, but I don’t have a problem with that. To me, it doesn’t lessen the immersion or have a negative impact on the quality; it’s merely an older style and in many ways, almost a design choice. It’s not simply inferior tech.

Manny Calavera is a travel agent in the land of the dead, so he’s surrounded by other dead characters. On the surface, and based on what we know of games today, one might assume this to be a dark and perhaps even horrifying atmosphere. But it’s quite the opposite. There are some bizarre sights and sounds, obviously, but it’s all amusing and tongue-in-cheek; it’s more of a farce than a drama. There’s even some romance, as the main character takes off after his heart’s true love and in so doing, embarks on quite the journey, during which he’ll encounter all sorts of colorful characters. For instance, Glottis is Manny’s closest friend and he’s the very definition of a “character.”

The Mexican influence is clear from the start, as Manny explores Mictlan, the afterlife as believed by the Aztecs. The environment is surreal and absorbing, and the artistry reflects the designer’s interest in Aztec and South American culture. If you’re familiar with Dia de Muertos, you’ll probably know what to expect from Grim Fandango. And if this is indeed what the afterworld is like, we can all look forward to a funny albeit bizarre world, where laughter is more prominent than any other emotion. Beneath that humor, however, are quaint traits like tenderness and hope. In other words, it’s an adventure steeped in lighthearted goodness, which is of course in stark contrast to its decidedly grim setting.

As for the gameplay, this is a puzzle-based quest with a console-based twist. It’s not all about pointing and clicking (hence the term, “point-and-click adventure”), like so many PC adventures of the day. In this case, you take direct control of Manny; you can opt to utilize the original tank controls, or you can take advantage of the updated control scheme that undoubtedly makes more sense. The PC version of this reimagined title does offer the point-and-click option as well but in my opinion, the game works better with direct control. There’s a streamlined inventory system as well, as you simply cycle through each item in Manny’s jacket to find what you need. There’s great balance here.

As for the puzzles, I won’t say they’re all exquisitely designed, nor will I say I enjoyed them all. I never did even when I played the game way back when. I find some of the puzzles too frustrating due to a complete lack of direction, although I admit that with proper exploration and diligence, the solution will usually reveal itself. If you’re a meticulous, even anal type of player and you indulge in such gameplay, you will inevitably adore Grim Fandango. At the same time, if you’re stepping back in time to play a classic you missed, you have to accept that game design has come a long way. Despite what some vets might think, there’s a big difference between the occasional hint and outright hand-holding.

Then there are some minor control issues that were common in the late ‘90s. For instance, it’s too easy to make a mistake with Manny, thereby sending him somewhere you didn’t want him to go. It’s easier to deal with this drawback if you opt for the regular controls, but such a shortcoming never fully disappears. Remember, it’s simply the nature of the game. Over the years, control has been refined and fine-tuned, to a point where old-fashioned schemes feel clunky and irritating. Combine this with what some might call a disappointing graphical upgrade, and this remaster will have its fair share of detractors. You just have to know what you’re getting into.

If you’re a student of gaming or if you want the complete walk down memory lane, you’ll want to sample the developer commentary as well. Tim Schafer is always worth listening to and the Double Fine team has plenty of gems to share, so listening to the commentary gives you a special appreciation for this particular title. One gets the feeling that everyone had a ton of fun making this game and frankly, “fun” is a term that has changed drastically over the past fifteen years or so. Our interactive entertainment always used to be something…well, different than it is now. I’m not saying better; just different. That much is obvious when playing older games like this.

Grim Fandango Remastered is a masterful puzzle/adventure that will go down in history as one of the most unique and atmospheric video games. The graphics aren’t really spruced up all that much (they didn’t do anything to the cut-scenes, as far as I can tell), and there are a few old-fashioned control quirks and design flaws, but these are minor shortcomings. It’s extremely tough to find such games these days, so if you’ve never had the pleasure, here’s your chance to play something completely unlike the other games in your current till. If you want to test your puzzle-solving skills and you have a special place in your heart for traditional adventure games and zany characters, this is a must-try.

The Good: Retains all the old charm and charisma of the original. Refreshing focus on well-designed puzzles. Multiple control options for vets and newcomers alike. Uniquely artistic with inspired set pieces. Streamlined, accessible gameplay. Developer commentary adds a lot to the package.

The Bad: Not enough done with the visuals for a remaster. Control can be finicky. Overall design isn’t always impressive.

The Ugly: “The day Tim Schafer does anything ‘ugly’ is the day pigs fly.”

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Dying Light: A Lesson In Why Fluidity And Pacing Are Critical

For the record, the full review will be up very soon. These are some impressions.

There are elements in video games that often defy explanation and analysis. Well, what I mean is that it’s difficult to convey one’s thoughts on such traits, mostly because they’re A. partially subjective, and B. not always qualitative.

In Dying Light, I have to say that two things keep leaping out at me: A distinct and disappointing lack of pacing and general gameplay fluidity. Granted, some will have different standards and definitions and I accept that. But when I’m playing, I’m always noticing the fantastic potential within the game, and I’m always interested in seeing what comes next. Developer Techland did a great job providing the player with a tense, gritty environment that demands attention.

On the flip side, the actual gameplay feels like a misfiring engine. One minute, it’s going along just fine and the next, it’s sputtering and gasping for air. This is caused by an occasionally questionable game design that causes the player to fall into a rut. There are times when you’re just running from more zombies or leaping around, climbing all over stuff. This is when the adventure starts to lose its focus. But the instant you accept another very cool side mission, you’re re-immersed in a fantastic atmosphere that requires vigilance, strategy and timing.

Then, you’re bogged down by what I call a fluidity issue. The idea is to combine the free-running/parkour elements found in a game like Mirror’s Edge with a creepy first-person survival adventure. It’s a great concept, to be sure. And most of the time, it works. On the other hand, when going flat-out (usually trying to run from zombies), it just doesn’t feel as fluid and intuitive as it should. There are breaks in the continuity and every time I encounter one of those little breaks, I frown in frustration.

In so many ways, Dying Light feels like a near-miss to me. It has all the right components but they don’t always gel together and that leaves me with an unfulfilled sensation. I will not, however, insult the game’s ambition and style, nor will I cast aspersions on the adventure’s focus on something besides slashing and dashing. It’s a good game. It’s just not the amazing gem it could’ve been, that’s all.

Related Game(s): Dying Light

Tags: dying light, dying light review, dying light impressions

1/29/2015 9:43:57 PM Ben Dutka

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New LEGO Games Include Jurassic World, Marvel Avengers

New LEGO games are headed our way!

TT Games, The LEGO Group, and Warner Bros. have announced several new LEGO installments for 2015.

The first is LEGO Jurassic World, which doesn’t come as a big surprise, as we’ve seen plenty of evidence to support the project. THe game will follow the storylines of the first three movies in the epic saga, along with the upcoming film, “Jurassic World.” The game is scheduled to launch in June for all major platforms. Then there’s LEGO Marvel Avengers, which offers an array of great superheroes and will be ready to go in the fall.

We also get LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin, which is slated for PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS; it’ll release on March 24 and bring an “untold story” to fans of the popular TV series. Lastly, there’s a mobile version of the previously released LEGO Batman: Beyond Gotham on the way as well; it’ll be on store shelves this summer.

Good clean fun for the whole family, that’s for sure.

Tags: lego jurassic world, lego marvel avengers, lego ninjago shadow of ronin

1/29/2015 11:26:15 AM Ben Dutka

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First Dragon’s Dogma Online Trailer Shows Off Gameplay

It’s still only coming to Japan, as far as we know, but it’s definitely worth checking out.

Not long after announcing Dragon’s Dogma Online, Capcom has released the first trailer for the upcoming free-to-play action/RPG.

The video highlights a group of players (each portraying different classes); this band of adventurers hunts down various enemies, such as dragons, and gamers get a peek at some of the open-world title’s locations. For instance, there are places in the town where players can congregate and make plans, which makes perfect sense for an MMORPG.

The game in question is scheduled to launch in Japan for PS4, PS3 and PC later this year. Thus far, it doesn’t appear to be coming west but you never know. If it’s popular enough…

Tags: dragons dogma online, dragons dogma online gameplay, ddo video

1/29/2015 11:37:11 AM Ben Dutka

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New Evolve Video Shows Off Solo Mode

It’s true that Evolve is designed for multiplayer – specifically, co-op – fun.

However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a solo mode. For those interested in the single-player action in the upcoming shooter from Turtle Rock Studios, check out this new video.

It highlights the offline solo gameplay and you can check out two full matches. When you’re playing as one of the Hunters, you can swap between the other classes at will when battling the mega Monster. As for the Monster, it’s just one character, anyway. Remember, Evolve is basically a 4-on-1 match where four Hunters attempt to take down a hugely powerful monster and you can do that with friends, or on your own.

The recent beta yielded positive results and the game is scheduled to arrive on February 10 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

Related Game(s): Evolve

Tags: evolve, evolve single player, evolve campaign, evolve trailer

1/29/2015 11:18:48 AM Ben Dutka

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PlayStation Platforms Get Badland: Game Of The Year Edition

If it says “Game of the Year Edition,” it has to be good. …okay, that isn’t true but in this case, you’re gonna love Badland.

Developer Frogmind has confirmed that the award-winning title will come to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and Vita this spring in the form of Badland: Game of the Year Edition.

The title originally released in 2013 on tablets and it received quite the warm welcome. The designers actually wanted to create a game worthy of PlayStation platforms and now, “this dream is a reality.” The game is a really cool blend of innovative physics-based gameplay, creative level design, power-ups and a beautiful environment. Frogmind says they “wanted the game to be perfect on PlayStation” and so, players can expect gorgeous full-HD visuals and expanded controls.

Furthermore, the new iteration boasts four times the amount of content as the original did at launch! There will be 100 single-player levels and a gameplay length of about 15 hours, along with 10 co-op and 27 multiplayer deathmatch stages. And yes, there are Trophies and Cross-Save support as well.

If you’re not familiar, check it out:

Related Game(s): Badland

Tags: badland, badland ps4, badland release date

1/28/2015 9:27:23 PM Ben Dutka

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